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How to Survive Without a Kitchen During a Remodel

Melody created a temporary kitchen during her home remodel. She learned a lot about what's needed, and what's not.

My interim kitchen served me well during our kitchen renovation.

My interim kitchen served me well during our kitchen renovation.

Living Without a Kitchen

Innovation and technology allow us to do more than survive without a kitchen. I knew I would need to find new ways of cooking during my kitchen remodel, but I didn't fully understand how to create a functional temporary kitchen until mine was fully gutted. It's easy to take the kitchen for granted until you find yourself living without one.

When doing a large remodel, going without your sink, oven, and fridge is a sacrifice we must make. You will be glad you did once you have your beautiful new kitchen in place. Hopefully, you are reading this article before you start your project. The best way to function while the kitchen remodel is underway is to create a temporary kitchen zone someplace away from the construction.

Here you will find yourself figuring out how to prepare a meal, do without a fridge, get dishes done, and safely store your food. Planning a temporary kitchen is the first step in this often necessary home remodel project. Become an observer while your old kitchen is still in place. Watch the habits of your family, and make a note of the activities that usually take place in the kitchen. This will give you a solid foundation for knowing what the most important items will be in your makeshift kitchen.

Setting Up a Temporary Kitchen Safely

The first step in planning for your kitchen remodel is to designate a zone for your temporary kitchen. Although choosing the dining room might seem to make sense, it's often too close to the remodeling project. While construction is underway, there will be lots of particulates flying about. Everything from kicked up dust, to saw dust from wood, to the exposure to germs that might happen while plumbing is being replaced.

If your temporary kitchen is too close to your renovation project, you would be working in an area which could be unsafe for the handling of food. The last thing you need is for your family to become ill from a foodborne illness while your kitchen is being reconstructed. A study or den far away from the kitchen is often a good choice for your temporary set up.

Don't just plan to eat out. I did that, and later figured out that there are bound to be times when you need to eat in, get a drink, or have dishes that need done. A make-shift kitchen will help ease the stress of the entire remodeling project. Once you clean out a sport for your interim kitchen, it's time to collect the furnishings you will need for your short-term solution.

What You'll Need for a Temporary Kitchen

  • Shelving units for dishes
  • Portable camping sink
  • Storage for dry goods
  • Mini fridge or cooler
  • Convection oven
  • Microwave
  • Table space for food preparation and appliances
  • Dish drying rack
  • Trash and recycling containers
  • Coffee maker
  • Temporary kitchen zone with an appropriate amount of electrical outlets
Keep your temporary kitchen safe by choosing a space not near the construction area.

Keep your temporary kitchen safe by choosing a space not near the construction area.

Preparing a Temporary Kitchen Space

When choosing a good place for your make-shift kitchen, look for an area away from construction. This zone should have adequate electrical outlets, and space for a least two tables, food storage bins, and room for your mini fridge (or cooler) and temporary camping sink.

Begin by rearranging the space you have chosen. A family room or den not in proximity of construction is often the best choice. If you have a spare bedroom, that is an excellent place for a temporary kitchen. If you lack space, consider having family members bunk together to turn one of the bedrooms into a temporary kitchen.

Oven Alternatives

My favorite appliance is my convection oven. A decent-sized convection oven can cook everything you could cook in your regular oven. I use the extra-large Oster Convection oven because it has a large enough diameter to cook 16" take-and-bake pizzas.

The size of your family, length of construction, and cooking habits will determine whether or not you will need both a convection oven and a microwave, or just one or the other. If you go out of your way to buy a convection oven, which can do everything an oven range can do, then don't worry. I promise you will love how quickly it cooks food, and want to keep it on as a part of your new kitchen.

Your temporary kitchen space should already be cleared. Take table number 1 and place it near electrical outlets. This will be your cooking zone, and where you place your microwave and convection oven. You can use the space under the table as storage space for kitchen goods. Tubs and bins with lids are cheap, and a good place to store canned goods. They will fit right under the table to save you space.

Food Preparation Space

Now that you have your cooking zone set up, you need a place to prepare your food, and to place a drying rack after you do the dishes. Take table number two and place it near an electrical outlet. You will likely want a table large enough for space to work, plus a little room for your toaster and coffee maker.

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I would suggest you invest in a couple inexpensive cutting mats. Get one for meats, and a second one for fruits and veggies. They are like cutting boards; they're made of a lightweight material that is easy to store. This will protect your table from getting damaged while preparing food.

Store cold food in a mini fridge during your kitchen renovation.

Store cold food in a mini fridge during your kitchen renovation.

Refrigerator Alternatives

The method you use to keep food cold depends on your situation. Some people move their old fridge into their garage and store food there. I have seen someone actually move their fridge to the new space, too. I don't really like that idea because I would worry it may damage the floor or carpet.

Instead, I recommend you buy a mini fridge with freezer. I bought an Insignia three cubic feet mini fridge for $130 from Best Buy. The bottom part is a fridge, the top is a freezer, and it isn't too small. After the kitchen renovation, it can be sent off to college with your kids, or used in the den for cold drinks.

The cheaper alternative is to use a large cooler to keep food cold. It would be just like camping, only your sill at home. Just remember that using this method means you will need to take daily trips to the store to buy ice. This isn't a good long-term food storage alternative, so when you decide really give it some thought.

Sink Alternatives

If you want maximum convenience, comfort, and safety, then I suggest you invest in a portable camping sink. You have to love modern day technology. For under $100 you can actually buy a portable sink with a faucet that works very much like a regular sink, only smaller.

Some people choose to just use water basin, the problem with that is that you will need a place to dump the kitchen water. With your kitchen under renovation you would end up having to use your bathroom sink or the shower drain. Taking your kitchen sink into the bathroom seem like a heath concern to me, and it's far less convenient.

Portable camping sinks are so cool. They are built with faucets, basins, and water holding tanks to mimic an actual sink. Even after you use it for your temporary kitchen, I bet you will want to keep it fo use during camping and outdoor parties.

Find a safe and dust free zone to store dishes during renovation.

Find a safe and dust free zone to store dishes during renovation.

Food and Dish Storage

The easiest solution is to buy large bins with lids to keep your dry goods and dishes protected from dirt and dust. They will fit under the tables, and are usually stackable. When a construction project is going on you don't want to risk contaminating the food or the dishes, so think sealed shelving units or sealed bins.

If you decide to use shelving units, try to find one that has doors which will keep food and dishes safely protected from possible contaminants. Avoid open shelving units. To know how much space, or how many tubs you need take a look at your family size. If you have a small family, you might choose to pack all but a handful of necessary dishes away, and just keep out what you need for each person per meal basis.

Trash and Recyclables

Your temporary kitchen won't have oven fans, or other sources of ventilation commonly seen in kitchens. You will want to keep this space smelling nice. Once you have your new kitchen zone set up, don't forget to include trash and recycling bins.

Try to choose containers which have lids, and are small. Yes, the smaller they are the more often you have to take them out, but this helps keep the room from getting a funky trash can smell to it. You can find inexpensive trash and recycling bins online, from Walmart, and even from the Dollar General.

Pulling It Together

If you have followed the steps here, you now have one table with your microwave, convection oven, and maybe your toaster and coffee maker. You will also have a second table set up as a cooking space with cutting mats. Now you can cook. Your portable sink should be set up, and your mini fridge ready to store food. Now you can clean and keep food cold.

You will also have shelving units with doors or tubs with lids where you store your food and dishes. Once you have your temporary kitchen ready to go you can get your kitchen renovation under way without worrying how you will meet your basic needs. Your temporary kitchen will keep you fed while you watch your new kitchen be created before your eyes.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Melody Collins


Dianna Mendez on October 27, 2018:

Good advice for those facing remodeling of their home. I remember having to navigate through the living room for kitchen appliances when our counters were being repaired.

RTalloni on October 19, 2018:

This post helps people see how to manage a substitute kitchen during a renovation, but also is useful for those in disaster situations when everything is upside down and they are working to get back to normal. Lots of good food for thought here.

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